Pumpkin carving. A tradition I fondly remember from childhood that I’m now passing on to my offspring. Such warm, cozy thoughts of picking out just the right pumpkin to dissect. It needs to be round, but tall. A long stem, but not too curved. No bumps or warts or dents. We ask a lot from this piece of fruit that entertains us once a year.
We finally choose and purchase the giant, orange ball that weighs more than a child. We bring the thing home, leaving trails of dirt in the trunk. It gets a good wash and we search through images for just the right character to butcher it with. Entire specialty knife kits are made just for the occasion. I won’t even get started on the unbelievable carvings I’ve seen when I forgot to add “easy” to my template search. There are some seriously talented squash scrapers out there.
The gruesome gadgets.
We place small children right next to the fun looking pile of razor-sharp tools and expect them not to be curious as we furiously saw the top of their perfect pumpkin. “Don’t touch that!” is repeated constantly throughout the night. I’m sure it’s not confusing at all.
Then come the guts. The slime covered mounds of orange seed goo we pull out bare handed and plop into bowls. Scrape, grab, plop, gag. Scrape, grab, plop, gag. After the first grab-n-gag, the kids have lost interest. Meanwhile, I’m up to my elbows in pumpkin puke. I’m pretty sure it’s making me itch, but I must sort the seeds. No seed left behind y’all. No, seriously all seeds will be sorted for roasting. Mommy must be munching on some salty tree bark like goodness after all this is over.
My kitchen table is an explosion of pumpkin parts, the kids are running through the house screaming and I have sweat pouring from my forehead trying to tape a picture of a delicate ballerina with petite features twirling on her toes onto a round surface. She had to have a ballerina. I’m the adult here, why didn’t I avoid this option? Pretty concept, pumpkin nightmare.
Then comes the poking. The tiny, plastic tool with a dull tip that I need to poke 652 times to outline this impossible Nutcracker scene. Is it too late to just paint a ballerina on this mangled, sticky ball instead? Why do I continue to do this to myself? I down a handful of candy corn courage. Fine, two. Then I poke until my arm is numb. I carefully peel back the picture and it’s all finally over. Can we go to bed now?
Wishful thinking, I haven’t even started carving. It’s been 3 hours and the pumpkin shell is still fully intact. I look at my arsenal. Long serrated knives, tiny wavy knives, strange-looking razors, like I’m about to shave some pumpkin legs. I close my eyes and grab one. It looks sturdy. Let’s do this. The first slice sets the whole tone. It goes in smooth, I start sawing and my carving groove is coming at last.
This is it. The moment it finally gets fun. I slice, saw, whittle and peel. Candy corn shots all around. I don’t even notice my kids are cutting holes in sheets to be ghosts. Whatever you want, have fun, please don’t bother mommy, she is carving!
The last of the wreckage has been wiped away. The kitchen is back to its regular mess. The seeds are smelling great. The ballerina looks more like a drunk flamingo, but who cares? It’s time to light the candle inside, turn off the lights and stand back with my family to admire yet another masterpiece.
I notice how much taller the kids are while looking at our lit pumpkin this year, but the tears are choked back until later. Right now we have on our pumpkin eyes. You know, that mesmerizing effect a newly carved jack-o’-lantern creates. It’s like childbirth, once it’s over one quickly forgets the agony it took to reach the final goal.
Ah well, until next year when we do it all over again…Happy carving!